Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Er, John or er, David or er, me

John Key, our Prime Minister, seems like an excellent bloke to know. I have never met him. But potentially I might. A few years after I went to Cobham Intermediate (NZ schooling for years seven and eight, when aged 11ish-12ish), John Key went there. At Easter this year a 50 year jubilee of the school is being held with the promise of meeting special guests. Could that mean John Key? Or Hayley Westenra? I cannot think of any other especially famous ex-pupils. But then an old classmate of mine would be worth inviting to be a guest speaker: Barbara Chapman is head of one of our leading banks, ASB, having forged a very impressive career to become one of the few female CEOs in NZ. I digress. As Prime Minister, John Key leads our parliament and that parliament soon will consider a (private member's) bill on same sex marriage. While the reception of the bill and the voting on it will be along 'conscience' rather than 'party' lines nevertheless John Key could give a lead on this matter. Being a mostly astute politician he seems to be playing a cool hand on the matter. Whatever lead he might give, I don't think it would offer the substantive reasoning that is on offer in the UK where a roughly parallel legislative move is progressing, though there with the explicit support and driving forward of Prime Minister Cameron.

Thus today we can read what the UK Roman Catholic bishops have to say. Here, here or here with H/T to Thinking Anglicans. In suggesting that there is something substantive on offer through their words I am not suggesting there is nothing on offer from those supporting the bill. (Though David Cameron's reasoning seems to amount to 'I think supporting this ultimately is electorally advantageous'). Among things said by the bishops, here is a pithy expression of the heart of their opposition to the proposed UK bill:

"The fundamental problem with the Bill is that changing the legal understanding of marriage to accommodate same sex partnerships threatens subtly, but radically, to alter the meaning of marriage over time for everyone. This is the heart of our argument in principle against same sex marriage."

Slightly longer is this:

"Marriage has,over the centuries, been the enduring public recognition of this commitment to provide a stable institution for the care and protection of children, and it has rightly been recognised as unique and worthy of legal protection for this reason. Marriage furthers the common good of society because it promotes a unique relationship within which children are conceived, born and reared, an institution that we believe benefits children."

Naturally, underpinning this approach, is the deeply held connection within Christianity, strongly retained in modern Catholic theology, arguably weakened in liberal Protestant theology, between sexual intercourse and procreation. Any bill, in any country which strives to widen the meaning of marriage from a specific (i.e. exclusive, faithful, permanent) relationship between a man and a woman to a relationship between any two people can only do so at the cost of weakening, if not severing the connection between sexual intercourse and procreation.

Interestingly the bishops draw on the wisdom of famous atheist Bertrand Russell as they expound this connection:

"‘But for children, there would be no need of any institution concerned with sex …. It is through children alone that sexual relations become of importance to society, and worthy to be taken cognizance of by a legal institution.’"*

Speaking for myself, I find that some of my views about marriage are being challenged by the ongoing debate occurring in Western civilisation. Too easily, I find myself realising, I have viewed marriage in 'romantic' terms: having fallen in love with each other, two people cement their love and celebrate it publicly by marrying each other. On those terms (and note how I have worded the sentence), marriage is indifferent to which genders are involved. Falling in love is certainly a pleasant way to inaugurate a relationship which leads to marriage, accompanied as it is by a vast array of music and countless films and novels, but it is not the only way, as cultures in which marriages are arranged would remind me. But marriage as I have experienced it (the first twenty five years are nearly upon us!) is the establishment, extension and maintenance of family, both the joining of two families of origin and the extending of each of those families.

The blessing of children in a marriage is the fulfilment of the great purpose of sexuality (on this atheistic evolutionists, theistic evolutionists and creationists are agreed!), the driving power of which draws two people together. That two people in a sexual relationship find purpose and meaning in their sexual activity such as enhancing their emotive love for one another is always a lesser purpose: without the great purpose of sexuality being fulfilled, neither person would exist! Bertrand Russell makes a good point: without children to consider, would there be any need to regulate sexual relations? (I assume he means relations entered into mutually between equals).

In one way I recognise with a degree of sympathy (now!) why politicians are pushing for same sex 'marriage' even where legal provision for 'civil union' or 'civil partnership' exists. Their world, I imagine, is a world of rights and access to them. The simple right to a fair trial is the cue to a vast, complex apparatus (of laws and government funding) of police, courts, department of justice, provision of legal aid, regulations for lawyers and so forth. Marriage confers certain rights (e.g. re next of kin, property) and politically it is demanding to restrict access to those rights by denying them to one group of people and conferring them on another group. Politicians are not accountable to God but to people and thus we see them being indifferent to who accesses those rights in respect of people the majority of society sees in ordinary terms. (Thus politicians are not about to open marriage up to siblings or to multiple spouses as society views these matters, still, as extraordinary. Conservatives seeing a 'slippery slope' from same sex marriage to, say, polygamy are misunderstanding society). Even though the rights conferred by marriage may be similar to those conferred by civil unions, the latter withholds one right, the right to say one is married! The Catholic bishops in the UK, however, are challenging a different matter. Not rights in respect of marriage, but the purpose of marriage in relation to the ongoing existence of society. Their point is that changing the definition of marriage cements into society a notion that procreation of the next generation of society is of little importance. The irony of many Western societies at the moment is that their governments are making economic decisions which work from precisely the same notion: the next generation and the burdens of debt bequeathed to it are of little importance. As good existentialists we are asserting the right of the present generation to have everything it desires.

The thoughts above are not intended to be a 'last word' on the matter; and they do not deal with the questions which arise where marriages between men and women do not or cannot produce children. But it is good to keep thinking as I head off tomorrow to the fourth Hermeneutical Hui of our church. A superb preview of the hui is given on Taonga. Readers here might be relieved, from one side and another, to see that I am not a presenter :). I do go however, to represent my diocese ... which is a rather clever move as the costs of my getting there are borne by the wider church since I am also on the planning committee for the hui. I think that observation deserves two :) :)

Consequentially, blogging might be light if not lite over the next few days!

*The fuller quote, to put Russell's remark in context is:

"The existing approach to marriage in British law encourages a particular understanding of marriage and the obligations taken on by those who marry. British law currently provides, for example, that a marriage is between two, rather than several, individuals; that the commitment of husband and wife is meant to last for their lifetime; that there is a sexual aspect to the relationship (in the requirement of consummation for there to be a valid marriage); that the husband is presumed to be the father of the child carried by his wife; and that the partners to the marriage will remain loyal to the relationship to the exclusion of all other sexual partners.
Those elements of the law of marriage are not arbitrary, archaic, or reactionary; they serve to show that marriage has an important and unique function.
These provisions cannot be understood unless they are seen as intimately related to the conception and rearing of children. This view is one held particularly strongly by the Catholic Church, but it is not a uniquely religious view.2 As Bertrand Russell said: ‘But for children, there would be no need of any institution concerned with sex …. It is through children alone that sexual relations become of importance to society, and worthy to be taken cognizance of by a legal institution.’"


18 comments:

Father Ron Smith said...

""The fundamental problem with the Bill is that changing the legal understanding of marriage to accommodate same sex partnerships threatens subtly, but radically, to alter the meaning of marriage over time for everyone." - UK RC Bishops -

Your tacit agreement. Peter, with this odd notion of the influence that Same-Sex Marriage might have on the future of heterosexual Marriage seems quite ill-founded.

It will probably not make one jot, tittle or iota of difference in attitude for anyone who wants to take advantage of the more common adoption of the married state - as the usual way of commitment for a heterosexual couple who want to commit them-selves to a monogamous loving and life-long relationship .

The only difference will be that a same-sex couple (and there won't be anywhere near the number of them)that wants to make the very same commitment to a monogamous. life-long relationship, will then be able to do so. How on earth could that make any different to a heterosexual couple determined to do the same? Give me an answer, if indeed you can.

Shawn Herles said...

It changes one of the most fundamental institutions of society in a radical way. When we change the nature and meaning of sacramental rites, this has a profound impact on the rest of society.

It changes the perception of marriage as a sacred covenant to one in which marriage is merely a bit of ritual or merely a legal contract.

This will further erode society, creating more problems, more failed "marriages", more broken families, and more erosion of the Christian foundations of our society and civilization. Both Rome and classical Greece fell in part because of the widespread acceptance of homosexuality.

It will continue the moral decline of the West, as morality is further privatized and reduced to individual choice.

It will bring persecution on the Church, as militant homosexual advocates will insist, and already are, that church pastors be forced, in the name of "human rights", to perform same sex rituals or face prosecution by the law.

And, worse of all, it will mock and dishonor God, as marriage was created by Him to be one man and one women. Disobedience to God, rebellion against God, is evil, and never results in good.

So yes, it WILL make a difference. A very bad one.

Father Ron Smith said...

"It changes one of the most fundamental institutions of society in a radical way. When we change the nature and meaning of sacramental rites," - Shawn -

This is not an answer to my question above. and the reason is that the Government in the UK is not giving sanctions for any 'sacramental rite', but rather a legal process - with no necessary incumbency upon the Church to be part of it. This is not a Church matter, but a civil one, that the government wants to make available, without discrimination, to all its citizens.

It may have escaped the notice of some people but the incidence of Church Weddings is on the distinct decline in Britain and elsewhere. However, this does not lessen the commitment of couples to want to legalise their relationships.

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Ron
The Catholic bishops made a different claim to the one you are asserting they made, a claim that the meaning of 'marriage' changes when it shifts from being a term which encompasses a man and a woman to encompassing any two persons. It does so shift because that is the intention of the law change proposed. In such a society there is no longer a specific term to describe the relationship vital to the ongoing life of that society, namely the bonded relationship between a man and a woman open to bearing and nurturing children. At first sight this may appear to be an insignificant change but it cements into the laws of that society a lack of interest by that society in supporting its own reproduction through procreation within stable families. In one sense the future consequences are painless. Such societies eventually die. By the way, were I a future historian evaluating such societies I would not be blaming homosexuals for their demise but the societies themselves and the politicians they elected to represent their present-focused, future-ignoring interests.

Shawn Herles said...

"This is not a Church matter, but a civil one, that the government wants to make available, without discrimination, to all its citizens."

This our Father's world. All of it. He does not recognise any part of the world as not being under his reign and rule.

GOD created marriage, not the civil state. The civil state has no right to disobey God, or re-invent marriage in a way God did not intend.

Christ is Lord and King, not Caeser.

And the motivation of those proposing this is not to make marriage available to all without "discrimination". That is empty propaganda. If that was the case they would also be legalizing polygamy and those who want to marry their pets.

No, this is just another tactic in the cultural Marxist war against the Christian West, and all true Christians should and must oppose it.

Father Ron Smith said...

I have no patience with people who talk about 'cultural Marxism' - an empty and meaningless phrase in the world of today's enlightenment. Sterile arguments remain just that - empty and meaningless.

I would like to remind contributors to this argument that Marriage is not restricted to religious communities. In one form or another it has ever been seen to cover the relationship of fidelity between a man and a woman in every society. In fact, there would be no talk of 'de facto' Marriage if it were restricted to the necessity of religious or civil ceremonial.

And as for Marriage being restricted to the necessity of producing children, then lots of marriages now solemnised by the Church could never have taken place (Or, is marriage restricted to a couple of child-bearing age?)

The word 'Marriage in the Bible has also been extended to the filial relationship that ALL Christians are called to in "The Marriage Feast of the Lamb" - in Heaven, where we are assured (again in Scripture) that, humanly-speaking, 'Thee will be neither giving or being given in Marriage'.

Now, how does that measure up to the importance of Marriage as an essential part of God's plan for all eternity? Please answer me.

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Ron,
No one is arguing here that marriage be restricted to those who can bear children. The argument is that all marriages should be open to bearing children. For marriage in senior life I suggest such marriages should be open to continuing the parenting/grandparenting roles, offering the blending of the respective genders of 'mother' and 'father' as intended by God our Creator.

Whatever a same sex marriage offers the world, it does not offer the blending of genders which traditional marriage offers.

As for the marriage of the Lamb: i is quite clear that this works from the human state of marriage, male (the Lamb) and female (the church as the Bride). Further it is imagery which does not purport to offer commentary on how life ought to be lived on earth.

Shawn Herles said...

"I have no patience with people who talk about 'cultural Marxism' - an empty and meaningless phrase in the world of today's enlightenment."

Today is not elightened. We live in a dark age that is in rebellion against God.

Cultural Marxism is a real issue. The Frankfurt School and it's influence in society are provable historical facts. Ignoring that does not make the facts go away.

The only marriage Christians should be concerned about is Christian marriage. We do not promote paganism of the practices of pagans.

Jesus defined marriage as one man and one women. The marriage feast of the lamb is between Christ and the Church, and does not change in any way Jesus' definition of marriage as one man and one women.

Anonymous said...

“This will further erode society, creating more problems, more failed "marriages", more broken families, and more erosion of the Christian foundations of our society and civilization. Both Rome and classical Greece fell in part because of the widespread acceptance of homosexuality.” Shawn, writing as he has reminded us here, from the Ministries of Pastoral Care training school, where I’m sure they will help him heal people’s gayness.

More scapegoating!

If you want to stop (what here in scare quotes is called) “marriages” failing, deal with the problem. Marriage equality is currently not legal – about half of current marriages fail. To make marriage equality the cause of that failure is obvious nonsense! People, including clergy, on their second, third or more “marriages” tirading against others who want to marry and actually take that commitment seriously!!!

Start blogging against divorce. Stop marrying people for their fourth or more time in church. Don’t allow clergy, including bishops, after their first or second “marriage”. Debate divorce at synod. THAT would have some integrity, some consistency! Not this fuming that everything from global warming to the common cold and tagging via the fall of the Roman Empire is due to gays wanting to publicly commit equally to heterosexuals.

It’s fine to discuss this rationally. The important word in that last sentence was “rationally”.

The understanding expressed here that a gay commitment is one step away from polygamy and bestiality is one of the strongest reasons why the approach advocated here must stop!

Alison

Anonymous said...

You are right, Shawn - today is a time of endarkenment in the post-Christian West, when ignorance of the Gospel, love of self and hatred of God have been exalted to a place of power and praise in popular culture. The sexual chaos of the young (and not just them), the collapse of marriage in general, the holocaust on the unborn and the valorization of sexual perversion are the hallmarks of this moral darkness, as faithful Catholics, Orthodox and Evangelicals all recognise. All of this has happened in a comparatively brief time - 40-50 years - and, notwithstanding the ignorance of those who don't know this came about (who haven't followed what began in the universities in the 1940s and 1950s), it is indeed the Gramscian "long march through the institutions" of education, media and entertainment that more than anything has effected this change. And just like the original economic Marxism, this cultural version has had very many useful idiots giving a veneer of sanctity to its hatred of God.
How revealing that modern Russia (now caught up in neo-Tsarism) wants nothing to do with it!

Martin

Shawn Herles said...

Hi Alison,

"More scapegoating!"

Not really. Homosexuality is the canary in the mineshaft. It is an indicator that moral decline has reached epidemic and seriously destructive proportions.

"f you want to stop (what here in scare quotes is called) “marriages” failing, deal with the problem."

An important part of the problem is the way Biblical marriage has been redifined over the last fifty to sixty years. The current point of the spear in that regard is "homosexual marriage". Thus in order to deal with one, we must also deal with the other. They are not seperate issues.

"It’s fine to discuss this rationally. The important word in that last sentence was “rationally”."

We are discussing this rationally. Nevertheless your point here just beggars the question of who's definition of reason are you talking about?

Mine is a mind in union with heart, with both in submission to God.

The modern definition of reason seperates the mind from the heart, and both from God.

So it does now work merely to say "reason".

"The understanding expressed here that a gay commitment is one step away from polygamy and bestiality is one of the strongest reasons why the approach advocated here must stop!"

It is one step away. Sexual sin is sexual sin.

The approach here on this blog from Peter and at least some of the contributers, is one of the only times this issue gets discussed truthfully in Anglican circles, especially here in NZ, where any attempt at honesty is drowned out in a screeching torrent of abuse by "activists" and unBiblical nonsense about "homophobia" and "tolerance".

For Zion's sake I will not keep silent!

Shawn Herles said...

Hi Martin,

"How revealing that modern Russia (now caught up in neo-Tsarism) wants nothing to do with it!"

It is very interesting that almost all of the former states of the USSR are now deeply culturally and religiously conservative.

Perhaps they have learnt a lesson we should listen to?

For those still trapped in the Matrix:

"Cultural Marxism refers to a category within cultural studies, popular mainly in the 1960s. Its purpose is to apply analytical techniques developed by Karl Marx (see dialectic materialism) to discover power structures within cultural artefacts like family composition, gender, race, or cultural identity within Western society."

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cultural_Marxism

http://www.culturalmarxism.org/

Shawn Herles said...

Cultural Marxism meets Saudi Oil money.

Maggots Feasting on the Corpse of the American Dream:

http://www.alternativeright.com/main/blogs/malinvestments/maggots-feasting-on-the-corpse-of-the-american-dream/

Shawn Herles said...

Hi Martin,

thought you might be interested in this:

Christian Russia Rising

http://faithandheritage.com/2013/01/christian-russia-rising/

Money quote:

"the Eastern churches have not been infiltrated by cultural Marxism to the extent that Western churches have been, both Protestant and Roman Catholic."

Disclaimer: No, I am not a Kinist, but FandH sometimes has interesting articles you won't find anywhere else.

Shawn Herles said...

All forms of sexual sin, including are forms of idolatry, specifically the worship of Baal.

We are commanded by Scripture, in both Old and New Testaments, to renounce ALL sexual sin, All sexual idolatry, and ALL worship of false gods.

In it's promotion of same gender marriage, liberals are trying to bring the worship of Ball into the Christian Church.

This is spiritual warfare, and Anglican evangelicals need to wake up to that truth, stop enaging in "dialogue" with a Satanic lie, stop engaging in "huis" in which we listen to this demonic lie, stand up, and FIGHT.

The time for soft soaping and polite speaking is over.

Anonymous said...

"Marriage equality" - Alison.

Orwell! Thou shouldst be living at this hour!

Notice the (Gramscian) political powerplay here, smuggling in a hurrah-word 'equality' (for who could be against 'Equality' without disqualifying him- or herself from public life?) to chill debate and darken understanding of what is really at issue.
Where is the Marriage Equality for the millions of faithful Muslims in the West who are denied their faith's polygamy?
Where is the Marriage Equality for those in consensual adult incestuous realtionships?

Martin

Father Ron Smith said...

I would be rather amused by the dark conspiracy theories of Shawn and Martin - if they were not so pitifully and constantly repeated..

This, ad nauseam, repetition of hackneyed phrases do not make them any more true than when they were first uttered - some time ago now - on this site - by the perpetrators.

I think you'll have to think up a rather more logical and believable explanation for the demise of the fundamentalist attitudes to Church that society is currently showing, than risking vain repetition of the ad hominem remarks against the world that turn up like a bad penny here.

What the world needs is intelligent dialogue that can convince young thinking people that the Church has some idea of the complexities they face, on a daily basis, in order to just survive. Harrumphing legalism simply does not cut the mustard any more. What people need is to know that God cares enough about them to have put in place a way of loving salvation that does not depend on their own holiness - but that of God, Himself. True Christian discipleship is based,no longer on Law, nor on our own worthiness, but on God's great and unrelenting mercy and forgiveness - to people who accept their need of it.

See the words of the old Fr.Faber hymn: "There's a wideness in God's mercy like the wideness of the sea"
Therein salvation lies.

Shawn Herles said...

"I think you'll have to think up a rather more logical and believable explanation for the demise of the fundamentalist attitudes to Church that society is currently showing,"

They are both logical and believable by those who are not still trapped in the Matrix.

On the other hand, the word "fundamentalist" is truly a repetition of a hackneyed phrase.

"What the world needs is intelligent dialogue that can convince young thinking people that the Church has some idea of the complexities they face, on a daily basis"

How many young people go to your church? How many young families?

On the other hand, walk into almost any evangelical church, Anglican or otherwise, and you will see large numbers of youth and young families, a fact which totally contradicts your claim here.

Young people want Biblical truth, not compromise with the world, the flesh and the devil.

"What people need is to know that God cares enough about them to have put in place a way of loving salvation that does not depend on their own holiness"

Which is exactly what they get in Evangelical churches. We teach grace alone. It is liberal and pro-gay churches that teach legalism, the legalism of political correctness.

"True Christian discipleship is based,no longer on Law, nor on our own worthiness, but on God's great and unrelenting mercy and forgiveness - to people who accept their need of it."

And again that is exactly what Evangelical churches teach and practice, NOT Liberal-Marxist churches, which do not teach God's grace and mercy, but the demonic lie that people can save themselves by engaging in "correct" political thinking and "correct" political activism.

"Harrumphing legalism simply does not cut the mustard any more"

Then stop promoting it. Harrumphing passe 60's-70's liberal political legalism does not cut it anymore, which is why, in NZ, and especially in the Anglican Church, true grace alone evangelical churches are growing, and left wing legalism in the Liberal-Marxist churches is dying.